Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Legal Services of South Central Michigan is closed to the public until further notice. If you need legal help, please call Legal Services at 269-965-3951 and leave a message. We continue to check voicemails, and legal services staff continue to work remotely.
This is a rapidly changing situation, and we will try to keep this page updated as we receive new information, so please keep checking for the latest developments.
For information online about how COVID-19 might affect your common legal issues, visit this page at MichiganLegalHelp.org.
On March 20, 2020, Governor Whitmer signed an executive order (EO) that stops almost all residential evictions in Michigan during the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) emergency. This order was initially in place through April 17, 2020 and was extended until May 15, 2020 by EO 2020-54. There is an exception that allows for the removal of tenants if they pose a substantial risk to another person or an imminent and severe risk to property.
Calhoun, Barry and Branch County Courts have also put a hold on all eviction cases. This means that there will be no evictions ordered and no eviction case hearings until the holds expire. This also means that, in most cases, your landlord cannot use a court order to physically remove you or your belongings from the property until after May 15, 2020.
Once the courts resume, you will get a notice from the court with your new hearing date. You can also call the courts or check their websites if you have questions:
- 10th District Court (Calhoun County)-269-969-6666
- 3-A District Court (Branch County)-517-279-4332
- 56B District Court (Barry County)-269-945-1404
On March 23, 2020, the Michigan Supreme Court issued an order extending the time to respond to complaints filed during the state of emergency until after the state of emergency is lifted by the Governor. This gives you extra time to respond if an eviction case was filed against you after March 10, 2020.
Finally, on March 27, 2020, President Trump signed the CARES Act into law. This law prevents many, but not all, landlords from filing new eviction cases for non-payment of rent or charging late fees for 120 days from the effective date of the Act. That means many landlords will not be able to file non-payment eviction cases or charge late fees until July 25, 2020. Even then, they will have to send you a 30-day notice before filing an eviction case. These protections apply to you if:
- You have a housing choice (Section 8) voucher;
- You live in a federally subsidized housing, such as public housing, project-based subsidized housing, and housing through the low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) program; or,
- Your landlord has a mortgage on the property that is in any way “federally backed.” This means you are protected if your landlord’s mortgage was made, insured, or guaranteed by a federal agency or even if the mortgage has been purchased or securitized by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.
These moratoriums do not release you from any obligation under your lease. This means you still owe your landlord any rent that becomes due during this period. While your landlord can’t file an eviction now, after the emergency passes your landlord can either start or continue your eviction case.
If your landlord is still trying to evict you during this time, call Legal Services of South Central Michigan (LS SCM) at (269) 965-3951 and leave a message.
For additional information about your rights as a tenant during this period and how COVID-19 might affect your eviction case, visit this page.
If you are behind on rent and need help:
- If you are struggling to pay your rent because you lost your job, apply for unemployment benefits. You can review this online toolkit for more information on how to apply.
- If you are in Calhoun County, you can also find resource information at http://battlecreek.covidresponse.net/. Here you will find resources for rental assistance, utilities, food assistance and much more.
- If you have a voucher or live in subsidized housing, report your loss of income to your voucher administrator or landlord immediately, in writing.
- Save a copy of the communication for your records.
- If your voucher is through MSHDA, here are blank copies of the forms you need to fill out to report your income loss: MSHDA 1890-IR, MSHDA 214, HUD 9886.
- Here is the contact information for common area voucher administrators:
- Apply for State Emergency Relief (SER) from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS):
- Call – (734) 481-2000
- Apply Online – mibridges.michigan.gov
Food Assistance, Utility Shutoff & Other Essential Services
Food Assistance Program (FAP) benefits through DHHS are being increased to the maximum level for March and April, and FAP work requirements are temporarily suspended.
For information on local food distribution, utility shut off policies, and more, visit http://battlecreek.covidresponse.net/resource-guide/
Domestic Relations Violence and Relations Matters
The court is currently closed for in-person hearings until April 30, 2020. The court is slated to open on May 4, 2020 for in-person hearings, in the event that the Governor's Stay Home Order changes.
The Family Division judges are conducting arraignments, emergency hearings, PPO Petitions and some motions and hearings, as they determine are suitable for remote court. Parties will receive notice of any hearings, although the notice may be via email.
The Attorney Referees will use the same process for their hearings. They will hold all preliminary hearings on Neglect Abuse and Delinquency cases, as well as the adjourned preliminary hearing if it is adjourned. Permanency Planning Hearings where the case is at the 12 month removal mark will also be held if no other PPH has been conducted. Referees may begin adding domestic hearings and other hearings to their schedule as they determine the hearings are critical or suitable for remote hearing. Parties will receive notice of any such hearings.
To access the Judicial/Referee/Magistrate schedules, please go to: https://www.calhouncountymi.gov/departments/courts/circuit_court/court_dockets.php - Circuit Court, Family Division and Probate Court
If you are facing Domestic Violence and live in Calhoun County, you can contact Safe Place’s 24-Hour Helpline at (888) 664-9832 or go to http://www.safeplaceshelter.org/
To combat the spread of disease, given the severity of the risk posed by the public, court staff and other court agencies, and considering the public health recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), all matters will be adjourned and the business offices of the Barry County Trial Court, including the Friend of the Court (BCTC and FOC) shall be limited from Wednesday, March 18, 2020 through Thursday April 30, 2020, with exception to the following essential services. For a copy of the full order click here.
All emergency motions and proposed orders identified in the Order should be emailed to the corresponding court email address:
- Circuit Court/County Clerk- infoCC@barryco.org
- District Court - infoDC@barryco.org
- Family/Probate Court - infoPC@barryco.org
- Friend of the Court - FOC@barryco.org
For questions pertaining to parenting time and custody matters in Barry County please click here.
If you are facing Domestic Violence and live in Barry County, you can contact Green Gables at 269-945-4777 or toll free at 800-304-5445 or go to https://www.greengableshaven.org/.
Branch County Courts: All jury trials during this time period have been adjourned and the March jury panels for Circuit Court, Probate Court, and District Court have been dismissed and will not have to report. April jurors for Circuit Court and Probate Court can call 517-279-4323 for updated information about their service. April Jurors for District Court can call 517-279-4332 for updated information about their service. Further information regarding jury duty is available through the County Clerk’s Office, 517-279-4306 or on the County Clerk’s page at www.countyofbranch.com.
If a litigant has questions regarding a scheduled court appearance after March 17, 2020, or other courthouse business, they should proceed as follows:
- If represented by an attorney, contact your attorney.
- If you are an attorney, please contact the appropriate court for further direction.
- If you are not represented by an attorney, please contact the appropriate court.
- If you are scheduled to meet with District Court Probation, please contact your probation officer by phone or call 517-279-4309.
- If you are scheduled to meet with Juvenile Probation, please contact your probation officer by phone at 517-279-4316
- If you are scheduled to meet with Circuit Court Probation, please contact your probation officer by phone or call 517-279-4305.
For additional information regarding Branch County Court operations, please visit the website: www.countyofbranch.com
If you are facing Domestic Violence and live in Branch County, you can contact the Branch County Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence at (517) 278-SAFE or go to https://278safe.com/.